The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Free Trade

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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/23/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,069 times Debate No: 24417
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




R1: Acceptance
R2: Arguments
R3: Rebuttals and Closing

Good luck.


i am an advocate of "fair trade" not free trade.... or at least "managed trade", not laissez faire trade.

the primary flaw with free trade is the idea of the "race to the bottom".
countries compete with each other so much that it's a detriment to everyone.... they have to start cutting regulations and wages etc just to compete. perhaps for a country that is just starting to develop, or in the process of developing, they being on the receiving end will reap benefits of something they wouldn't have had otherwise. but for a countries that are already considered developed nations like the US, it leads to problems.

this is especially true if you consider that for most effective purposes, we have an infinite labor pool. you can always find a schmuck to take less when he's in poverty, as the world has tons of, the idea of putting our labor somewhere else.

for example. mitt romney talked about cutting out labor's union stronghold, saying that it costs two thousand dollars more per car here than other places. he's talking about cutting out pay and benefits, then, just to increase profits. we might agree that the unions get and had too much (eg before the bail out when they didn't have to take as many concessions), but that don't mean there's not things being cut, the point of race to the bottom.

there might be some benefit to some people, with lower prices in goods.... but not for everyone, and over the long run, it brings everyone down. like that motto.... "out of a job yet? keeping buying foreign". wages jobs etc fall.

also, if you look at the share of the middle classes income compared to the richer etc, over time, it not only stalled but started to decrease. especially if you look at it after inflation. what could have caused this? perhaps the free trade act that bill clinton enacted in 1995 as just an example. (we saw a boom soon after that, due to the internet boom or trade or what is interesting to speculate). even if it was a boom for the corporations as it was... that don't mean it wasn't for everyone, or at least that it'd last.

we are essentially making the US meet the with everyone else.... causing us to become a third world nation etc.


they put plants in mexico instead of the US, or even reestablish them there. the rust belt is an example... instead of hiring the masses of unemployed there, they hire out and off source jobs.
maufacturing is biggest hit.

example of what happens when you outsource etc. eg, bob makes ten dollars an hour, 120 per day. his boss cuts his job to five dollars an hour, 60 per day. his boss pockets twenty of that savings, and passes on the rest to everyone else. in this case boss got richer, and everyone else saved some,but bob lost out. but then what happens when 'everyone else' also eventually gets knocked down? all their jobs get cut or reduced or not starting out as high, whatever. eventually everyone will be working for nothing while the boss makes beans.

it's important to note that trade with nations isn't always bad... asi said before, there's gaining natural resources that they ahve. also, perhaps for some businesses getting off the ground and can't function without out sourcing, that might be an okay situation. while i believe certain situations might warrant trade... and i speculate pro will only provide mere expamples where trade is good, i don't thyink we should extend trade to being free trade particularly not laissez faire trade.
Debate Round No. 1



R1 was for acceptance, not arguments. Conduct?

"Race to the bottom argument"

Nations that have higher wages can still beat low wage nations when the higher wage nation has other comparative advantages such as higher productivity or higher quality products. [1] [3] And, the US is at the top of the world when it comes to productivity. [5] So, our comparative advantage would allow the US to better produce skill intensive goods and sell them around the world, increasing wealth for us and therefore increasing prosperity.

Regulations can be simplifyed and streamlined, to make America more competitive. And this would make the US more competitive, and as I said earlier, other comparative advantages such as higher productivity would make the US win.

R1 was for acceptance, NOT arguments. I will rebut her other arguments.

Inflation was not boosted because of NAFTA, and that didn't cause slow economic growth in middle class households. Low economic gains were caused by high income inequality, itself derived from low top income tax rates. Free trade would increase the wealth of the middle class, thus helping my side of this debate.

About the rust belt, it simply makes resources become efficiently allocated where a nation has the greatest comparative advantage, in this case Mexico. However, the Midwest has a different niche (comparative advantage) when it comes to trade. No longer is the Midwest most efficient at producing automobiles. Now, the Midwest produces other, higher tech automobiles and products such as lithium car batteries, which is the same as what free trade would cause — specialization.

As I said earlier, with free trade lower wealth nations would specialize in producing low skilled labor intensive products such as socks and pants, clothing. Higher skilled nations such as the US would specialize and sell skill intensive products such as aircraft. And we would exchange and trade goods and we would both mutually gain.

C1: Improves Lives of Citizens

My opponent basically says the free trade harms the poor. This is not exactly true. Free trade helps the poor. Free trade mostly increases competition in sectors where low wage countries can compete in, such as food and clothing. Since poor people have a much higher propensity to consume products such as food and clothing, free trade which minimizes prices among the poor gives the poor higher purchasing power. [1] Also, nations that have engaged in free trade witness increased wealth among the poor. For example, in Indonesia, in 1975 malnourishment among children was greater than 50%. Now, it is about 1/3rd of children. [8]

Empirical evidence has found that free trade has added about $2,000 to the annual income of the average US family because of cheaper products. [2]

Furthermore, free trade has had more beneficial effects. For instance, economist Catherine Mann predicts a new surge of technology employment in the US because of the explosion of international trade. [4]

Free trade causes businesses to lower prices universally. Lower prices increases purchasing power, which helps consumers purchase more goods and further help the economy.

C2: We are Connected

Citizens of the world are vastly connected with others in means of trade. For example, the elimination of tariffs would reduce the prices of steel, which would reduce the prices of computers in another industry, and the spread is all connected. Other industries, perhaps a doctor's office, would have lower costs because the steel used in products such as the computers they bought, and the cheaper steel for the doctor's products, would be cheaper. These fractions of dollars really add up. So, trade liberalization would reduce prices in mostly (if not all) fields. So, free trade would increase wealth and reduce costs.

C3: Comparative Advantage

Free trade increases competition among businesses with no borders. Thus, individuals and businesses must specialize in what they produce. By specializing in different tasks, more goods are produced, further lowering prices. Countries can do the same. By specializing in a few particular industries, a nation utilizes its resources and are reallocated in areas where America is more efficient at producing. This is why America tends to export skill-intensive goods such as films, biotechnology goods, capital goods, and industrial products. [6]

We do not need to worry about low-wage countries competing us out of jobs. For example, although we may be better at making socks than workers in Bangladesh, we will not export socks, because we have a comparative advantage in producing higher tech goods instead.

So, we would sell skill intensive goods, and import low skill goods. [7] And, since skill intensive goods create greater wealth, American workers would enjoy greater wages. So, the reallocation of resources in which America is efficient, would make US workers save money on labor intensive goods, and make workers more prosperous in skill intensive goods where the US has a comparative advantage.

C4: Peace

Nations that engage in free trade are more akin to peace, for obvious reasons. The nations are interdependent, and rely on another for specialized goods. So, they avoid war to get the goods they need and enjoy mutual prosperity. So, free trade increases peace and reduces the likelihood of war. [9]

C5: Economic Growth

In free trade the workers would gain from producing more efficiently and consuming higher quality and services at lower prices. Empirical evidence points out that nations that engage in free trade enjoy greater economic growth. [10] And in a stronger economy, demand is increased. Increased demand leads to more jobs, expanding businesses, and a continuum of economic growth, as business size and capacity, as well as local purchasing power and jobs all increase, resulting in broad prosperity.

C6: Other Natural Benefits of Free Trade

Specialization and free trade allow the U.S. to become more competitive and innovative. Innovation constantly provides new technologies that allow Americans to produce more, improve our health and the environment, improve education, and have greater investment opportunities. The resulting economic growth generates better-paying jobs, higher standards of living, and a greater appreciation of the benefits of living in a peaceful society. [10] Thus, free trade has many external benefits.


Free trade moves resources into areas we are not efficient and moves them to areas that the US has advantages in and greater efficiency. Specialization makes resources become more efficient and reduces costs. Lower prices put more money in the economy, and therefore grows the economy. Specialization increases working wages, cuts poverty rates, and increases peace. Comparative advantage maximizes the number of jobs, increases productivity, lowers costs of goods, and increases peace, and all the benefits of innovation and competition by making efficiency a central cornerstone of the economy, and the natural market. Comparative advantage helps skilled American workers, and makes us utilize resources efficiently, helping the whole economy. Thus, we need free trade for broad American prosperity.


[1] Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Agricultural Policies in OECD Countries: At a Glance 2008 Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2008. Print.

[2] C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Institute for International Economics, Foreign Affairs (89)


[4] Catherine Mann, "Globalization of IT Services and White Collar Jobs: The Next Wave of Productivity Growth" (Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics, 2004)


[6] The World Factbook (iPod App), United States, 2011.







"How big is this impact on wages? A reasonably cautious estimate is that between 1973 and 2006, global integration lowered the wages of U.S. workers without a four-year college degree (the large majority of the U.S. workforce) by 4%. /// Four percent might not sound like that big a deal, but to put it in some perspective, wages of workers without a college degree rose by only 2% over the entire 1973-2006 period. If not for the effects of trade, then this group's wage increase could have been 100% larger."

what is the impact of jobs? all fifty states have a net loss of jobs due to NAFTA related activity.

i notice that pro has asserted that the average family saves two thousand per year. this is first of all assuming it's better to have more money for some, while no money for others, eg my job loss data. i'd also critique pro for citing a source i cannot read and critique online. this is merely an online debate board and it's too easy to find misrepresented or badly done studies, when one cannot reasonably access the study.

i'd also challenge pro to try to use more common sense examples. i gave the example of bob losing his job, while giving others soem savings, ie the money he made. there's only a set amount of money going to him, or the boss, or the community, or another country. in that example, bob lost out. others lose out too.
maybe an example that could be arguably good for pro... instead of a union worker making twenty five dollars an hour, two minimum wage workers will be hired, with savings for boss, community, and money to antoher nation. but this assumes it's best to have two lower paid workers, than better paid higher workers. indeed, while many union workers made twenty five starting out, now the common wage is eleven dollars or so... i notice this from just looking at job boards and speaking to people.
perhaps pro could assert that instead of making bumpers, the person will make something else, similar to his high tech devices argument. the problem though is that if there's a demand, the rich will find a way to make it happen... even if they have to spend twenty five instead of eleven or less. we're just accepting less in order to help others some, hurt some a lot, while spreading that money to richer people and other countries, instead of here.

with more umployed here, as well, there is greater competion for the same jobs, even if there are higher skilled jobs here.
and, to be sure, as other nations "catch up" to us, they will be making all the things we do and we will have no comparative advantage. most jobs even in high tech fields do not require much real education... a produiction worker on an integrated circuit line does mostly just formulaic work as much as anyone else. jobs that require real skill like higher up engineers are not as common, and so we could assume that it's a matter of time before other countries steal any "tech" jobs we have. as time progresses, to be sure, even high paid engineers jobs could be in jeopardy.

there is a finite way to spread arou8nd the wealth, and if you focus on savings for the rich, and giving money to other countries, we are hurt for it...
"According to Ravi Batra's book, The Myth of Free Trade, open trade in the US has resulted in replacement of manufacturing jobs for service jobs, which pay less on average. The product trade deficit results in more investment money flowing into the US as a trade-off. This investment money mostly ends up with wealthy investors and owners; and "trickle down" is not sufficient to compensate for the loss of manufacturing jobs and wages. According to Batra's research, even though free trade may increase GNP, the increases do not flow to rank-and-file workers."

the following chart shows how free trade as a percent of GDP harms wages.... except for wages like education and health care, jobs that can't really be outsoured.... the gerneal trends for other professions is that wages either stall or slightly decline, to signficantly decline.... as the trade as percent of GDP increases.

free trade as a percent of GDP is the best measure of trade, as it takes into account the fact that it's all proportional to each other, and just because trade might be increasing, it don't mean it's significant when tied to other things like GDP.
Debate Round No. 2



My opponent said that low skilled workers got a wage decrease of about 4% since the induction of NAFTA. This is a straw man for one. The large increase in low skilled immigrants has been found to depress the growth of the wages of low skilled workers. [1] So for all my opponent has said, we don't know the real cause of the decline in wages.

If it was in part due to trade, it is simply because of comparative advantage. Businesses have allocated resources out of where they are inefficient and redirected them towards areas where they are more efficient.

Furthermore, my opponent says that the wages indeed did rise 2% in that time period. Her source also shows that college wages, adjusted for inflation, have grown by 3%. This is modest, but more could be done, free trade would let them have higher wages by expanding the markets in which their goods are sold in. Furthermore, the cost of the modest decrease in low skill wages is in return more jobs, because greater savings let families spend more elsewhere, and second the greater efficiency in the market allows more money to be directed elsewhere, where America is specialized.

There is a reason why outsourcing actually is beneficial. Jobs that are outsourced leave higher capital for businesses to reinvest in America and to expand and/or create other jobs with higher skill levels.

A study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) found that outsourcing lowers costs for US companies, allowing them to spend other money in the US in the form of higher skilled new jobs, expanded facilities, and increased efficiency of the US economy, exactly what I have been saying. Overall, it found that outsourcing jobs resulted in the creation of twice as many jobs than displaced. [2] By specializing in high skilled goods, free trade expands exports and therefore increases the wages and the prosperity of American workers in high skilled fields, while making the U.S. market more efficient by weeding us out of areas money is used inefficiently. This is why free trade agreements such as NAFTA are beneficial.


About NAFTA, my opponent says that net job change has been negative for the United States. First, it is very difficult to come up with an arbitrary number when it comes to trade agreements.

Furthermore, 3/4ths of all the workers displaced by their jobs between the 3 year period between 1995 and 1997 were in job areas relatively insulated from the effects of trade. Even more, much of the job losses were caused by technological change. [2]

The peak of American manufacturing was reached in 1979, and overall has declined since. So, we can conclude that technological change has had more of an effect on jobs than trade. [3]

We cannot conclude effectively the effect of NAFTA on American jobs, although we do know that after NAFTA exports increased. After NAFTA, U.S. exports have increased by 190%, and thus, today exports of the US to the NAFTA region are $412 billion. [4] Economists estimate that $1 billion in exports = 8500 jobs on average. [5] So, NAFTA has led to an increase in US jobs by over 1 million jobs. Then, you have to remember the savings generated by greater efficiency by having resources redirected and allocated. Since much of the jobs lost are due to technology change, not trade as I supported earlier, [3] the job losses are not overcoming the gains from free trade. And we increased efficiency for more cash for the average famiily. A benefit.

R3: Increased Family Wealth/ Free Trade Benefits

The $2000 extra for families evidence is from my AP Gov't and Politics Book, Pearson Hall, (2010).

We could make the US blocked from trade, and make us self-sufficient ourselves. This would lead to inefficient industries and lower employment, since inefficiency would lead to fewer resources to therefore employ less people. Higher costs of labor would lead to the higher inefficiency, and less jobs overall for people. And this exactly correlates with the empirical evidence that free trade leads to more growth.

Furthermore, blocking trade, i.e. protectionism, does not lead to prosperity. For example, after the Smoot-Hawley tariff after the Depression started, job losses increased due to the reduction in markets. So, protectionism leads to job losses. And, I have already proved that nations that engage in free trade have greater economic growth. So, free trade leads to better economic outcomes. [2]

My opponent asks for a simple down to earth analogy. I'll give one.

In Michigan, the steel industry, which cannot compete with the steel industry based on China, ends up closing. However, then the rest of the workers in Michigan enjoy the benefit of lower prices of steel due to competition. Then, the company which closed the steel plant in Michigan, then opens a plant in China. China enjoys increased prosperity, and has a stronger peace relation with the US, because it relies on their demand. Then, by the statistics, that company can further become more competitive by focusing on development where the workforce is more competitive. That company knows that the workers in China aren't that good with wind turbines. So, they use the new profits made by relocating a factory in China, and creates several new wind turbine plants in Michigan, and offers a contract with let's say several hundred workers that offers training at a local two year college, in exchange for the Associate's Degree the workers agree to work for the company in Michigan at the new plant for 12 years. The result? Comparative advantage makes labor intensive products go to areas where they are produced most efficiently — China. Comparative advantage also leads so that high skilled labor products go where they are produced more efficiency — USA (Michigan). Further, in Michigan, the wages are higher than they would be (supply and demand makes higher skills = higher wages), and the price of steel is cheaper for all still. And efficiency is made a cornerstone of the market, and efficiency leads to higher prosperity for all.

Private contracts between voluntary businesses and students could solve the problem for the determined unemployed. But I also advocate gov't investment in job retraining and access to opportunity.

Since technology always progresses, my opponent's scare story is not true. Comparative advantage would put us at a higher position relative to Bangladesh, due to natural advantages.

My opponent also has a few statements about the failure of trickle down policies. This is different. Trickle down policies relate to taxes not trade, and are thus irrelevant to this debate.


Free trade makes resources become used more efficiently, and the more efficiency of resources leads to increased productivity and greater job growth, expansion and reinvestment in the economy. Free trade also leads to more peace and helps the poor, as well as the average family by increasing their wealth by over $2000 a year at the current level. Free trade makes competition increase, and those with higher skills are rewarded with higher wages and earnings. Nations with free trade experience higher economic growth, than protectionist countries. This proves that free trade is the best way to go. [6] And the simple formula for GDP; Consumption + Investment + Goods, (X-I), shows that with free trade we could increase consumption, investment, and the goods produced and exported for higher growth.

People would save cash due to lower priced imports for basic goods and greater efficacy, and for high skill products such as solar panels, wind turbines, etc., we would specialize in exporting them to the world market, increasing our earnings and profits. It is win-win.

Vote PRO


[1] "What You Should Know About Politics... But Don't" By Jessamyn Conrad, 2008. (225)




dairygirl4u2c forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Lordknukle 4 years ago
You do realize that "race to the bottom" happens in heavily welfarized countries? Right?

A race to the bottom is a socio-economic concept that is argued to occur between countries, states, provinces or territories as an outcome of regulatory competition, progressive taxation policies and social welfare spending
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